Study Finds Dangerous Substances In Supplements

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 18, 2018

In the study, researchers analyzed data from an FDA database on dietary supplements tainted with pharmaceuticals that had been identified by the agency from 2007 to 2016. At least 19 of these products contained new unapproved ingredients in the second or third warning, consistent with the assumption that the FDA found the product to be adulterated a couple of times. "However, for my patients who still want to use supplements, I advise them to purchase supplements that list only one ingredient on the label and to avoid any supplement that has a health claim on the label, such as improving immunity or strengthening muscles".

Results From 2007 through 2016, 776 adulterated dietary supplements were identified by the FDA and 146 different dietary supplement companies were implicated. The answer is many labels leave out one important ingredient: a hidden payload of pharmaceutical drugs and experimental chemicals.

While dietary supplements are marketed as safe and all-natural, a recent study has found that many of them contain unsafe substances, including unapproved and unregulated pharmaceutically active ingredients. Over 150 of the tested supplements contained more than one unapproved ingredient.

Meanwhile, over half of American adults say they take dietary supplements.

"These products have the potential to cause severe adverse health effects owing to accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other drugs within the same dietary supplement", wrote the authors, led by Madhur Kumar of the California Department of Public Health Food and Drug Branch. Many dietary supplements, such as vitamins, are risk-free, but the same can't be said about the vast majority of sex, weight loss, and bodybuilding supplements - it is these categories that should be targeted for regulation.

Supplements promising enhanced sexual pleasure accounted for 46 percent of the offending products, with weight loss supplements coming in at 40.9 percent and muscle building products at 11.9 percent, the study reveals. The authors of the study wrote that the substances represent "a serious public health concern".

For example, some muscle-building supplements were found to include actual steroids or similar ingredients, while sexual enhancement supplements were found to contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Both of these drugs are phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors used to treat erectile dysfunction are the main ingredients in Viagra and Cialis.

During this period, 776 dietary supplements were found to contain drugs.

It's been argued however that since nearly 75 percent of the offending supplements were sold online or through global mail order, they don't represent the "mainstream" of the supplements industry. They are instead considered foods.

To get tainted supplements off the market, the FDA first has to try to get the companies to issue a voluntary recall every time the agency finds evidence of drugs in a supplement, Cohen said.

Experts point out that this arrangement means that, while the FDA has the authority to remove from the market any supplement reported as causing harm, as a practical matter it does so only after the fact.

The new findings were reported in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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